Alejandro Escovedo comes from a musical family including brothers Pete and Coke Escovedo and his niece, long time Prince collaborator Sheile E. I discovered Escovedo recently after a feature story on the Sound Opinions public radio podcast. That prompted me to pick up his latest CD, "Real Animal," a musical autobiography of Escovedo's formative years listening to bands like Mott the Hoople, Iggy & the Stooges, The Clash and others. It's a killer album. If you haven't heard it, head straight to Amazon; you can get it for under $10. I'll write up a seperate review in the coming weeks.
At any rate, I was thrilled to see that Escovedo would be wrapping up a short acoustic tour (Tourette?) with a final gig in Santa Cruz. But I had some aprehension: first of all The Rio Theater doesn't have a license, and nothing goes better with roots rock than a good cold beer. Secondly, I wondered whether an acoustic set would do justice to the power of the songs on "Real Animal." Escovedo's guitar player Dave Pulkingham assured me the evening would rock, and it did.
Amy Cook, an alt-folkie with a beautiful voice opened the show with a short set. Then Escovedo and Pulkingham played their first number, "Five Hearts Breaking," coming down the aisle of the theater. It was a fitting start for a splendid evening. Once on stage, they launched into several songs from "Real Animal" starting with "Always a Friend" and then recent songs "Sister Lost Soul," "Chelsea Hotel '78" as well as some older material.
Between songs, Escovedo talked about his life growing up as a musician, playing with Iggy Pop, and hanging out with Sid Vicious at the Chelsea Hotel. They also played "Castanets" a song Escovedo disowned for several years when it was reported the song was on Geoge Bush's iPod. Now that Bush is out of office, the song has made its way back into Escovedo's set list.
The evening finished with a few more songs from the audience, this time with Amy Cook joining on backing vocals. They performed a beautiful rendition of "Sensitive Boys" a song about the band the True Believers that Escovedo formed with his brother Javier in the 1980s. Escovedo's vocals were as haunting as ever, but this was truly a mesmerizing performance.
Escovedo will be touring again in March and April in the midwest and southern US. Don't miss an opportunity to see one of the pionneers of indie rock.